Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The latest show at 2nd Story Theatre is “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark. The show is a light fast pace suspense comedy about a love-triangle between a husband, Paul Miller, his wife, Arlene and their dentist, Mitchell Lovell, at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn. It is a three scene play which takes place at Christmas, July 4th and New Year’s Eve. Its many twists and turns during this mixed up mayhem keeps the audience in stitches all night long. Director Ed Shea keeps the show moving at a rapid fire pace and gives his comic performers a lot of sight gags and shtick to do, giving it the necessary ingredients for the hilarious night of comedy that occurs. The authentic set and lighting is by Max Ponticelli and the gorgeous 1978 costumes are by Ron Cesario.
Michael McAdam plays Paul, the car salesman that Arlene wants to divorce one minute then loves the next. He can’t believe what is happening and allows himself to be tied up in a chair. Then in another scene, he runs around outside on the ledge. Michael is hilarious when he climbs back into the room as if he is still outside on the ledge. Another comic moment is when he realizes he has bird poo on his forehead. Michael also brings KFC chicken for Arlene in this scene while hiding in a closet, waving a gun in the air and spouting lessons he learned in self actualization class. There is a surprise heart attack scare that doesn’t end the way you expect which wins many laughs. He steals many a scene with his wacky antics.
Lara Hakeem plays Arlene, who has her car salesman husband and dentist boyfriend chasing after her throughout the show. Arlene is a dim bulb who can’t chose who she wants to be with which leads her to thoughts of murder. Some of her funniest moments include dressing in a blonde wig while pretending to be a bimbo, pretending to make love on the bed, crawling under the bed and starting to make love with one of her lovers and kissing her lover behind her husband’s back. Lara delivers the goods as this kooky off balance woman and obtains many laughs along the way.
Wayne Kneeland plays the skirt chasing dentist, Mitchell. He is very funny while seducing Arlene and plotting against Paul while saying love conquers everything. Another comic bit is when he spills champagne on Paul’s crotch. Mitchell ties up Paul with Paul’s tie and his tie, makes a noose for the gallows and runs around on the ledge in shorts. He also gets a dose of Novocain in the butt which makes him limp around the room and also is a hoot when he does some disco moves. Another comic gem is when he puts on lipstick to kiss a scarf. So for a funny farce to brighten up these cold winter days, be sure to catch “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” at 2nd Story Theatre. I have fond memories of this show, having directed it in 1983 and 2014. It will help brighten up your mood with all the political shenanigans going on, too.
MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’S (10 February to 12 March)
2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI
1(401)847-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com